Michael headed out for meetings at 9:00 so I went downstairs for breakfast and then headed out for my day. As I mentioned yesterday, my first stop was the Milan Cathedral. It is a huge structure and is supposed to hold 40,000 people, but they would have to all be skinny and really close friends to do it.
The interior of the church was typical….lots of statues, paintings and stained glass pieces. The signs said that you couldn’t take photos or videos, but people were snapping away like crazy so I finally joined them. I didn’t spend a lot of time in the church as everything was in Italian so about all I could do was to soak up the atmosphere.
I exited the church and started to walk around the outside, where I came upon the entrance to the 153 stairs to the first tier. It was wonderful to be on top and close to the spires and carvings.
I then walked up the next 79 stairs that put you at the very top of the main cathedral. It was midday and HOT as heck up there in the sun, but the views were gorgeous…..
I continued my walk around the building, stopping to appreciate the intricate carvings….
I came to a beautifully carved door, all in black and was curious about 2 legs that were golden. As I watched, several Italians approached the door, placed their hands on the legs and had their photos taken. I asked at dinner why this was, but no one there could give me an answer……I will have to do some more asking later!!!
I left the Duomo area and went into the Galleria shopping area. This is a very old area that is now inhabited by very elegant stores including Louie Vuitton and Prada. Unfortunately, they sit in close proximity to a McDonalds!!!
My next stop was to be the La Scala Opera House museum, but it was closed for lunch so I went in search of something to eat. Seeing a large line outside of a shop, I decided to check it out and found out that it was a Gelato bar, so I decided that I would have Gelato for lunch…..it was so good….
I walked back to the museum and spent a wonderful hour inside the museum. It gave you a glimpse into the actual opera house which was magnificently decked out in scarlet velvet. The stage was huge and there were men working on the lighting system. The next event to be staged there will be Aida, but it doesn’t start until after we leave.
I loved the museum, although I didn’t know any of the opera stars that were mentioned. However, there were artifacts from various musicians and composers that I found interesting. The coolest thing were casts of various musician’s hands. I loved being able to see the wrinkles and details of the hands of Chopin, Toscanini and others. There were also several of their batons and it was interesting to see how they varied in size and style. One set were very slender and looked as if they had warped over time. I wondered if this was a recent occurrence or if they were warping as they were being used.
My final stop of the day was to the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana which is the oldest museum in Milan. It had an amazing collection of paintings and I was drawn to the ones where the light seemed to emanate from inside the painting…..I have no idea how the artist can create that illusion!!!
The highlight of the collection is a charcoal drawing by Raphael that was the pattern for the “School of Athens” fresco that is in the Vatican. As you looked at it, you could see holes in the canvas that were used to pounce the pattern onto the wall for the fresco. I cant wait to see the final product when we get to Rome. I spent an extra Euro in this museum and bought an English audio guide. I am so glad that I did, because it added greatly to my enjoyment of this museum.
There were two other pieces that I loved….the first was a mosaic that depicted the author Virgil. From a distance it looked like a painting or fresco, but when you got close you could see that it was made up of thousands of 1/4 inch (or smaller) pieces of tile.
The other was a still life of musical instruments by Evaristo Baschens…..the detail in this picture was fantastic and you could even see a layer of dust on one of the instruments.
I left the museum and headed back to the hotel, but kept getting lost and ending up at the same place. I finally figured out that I was not going all the way around one of the small plazas but was turning too early!!!
At 8:00pm, we went to dinner with 18 other scientists at a Pizza restaurant. The individual pizzas were about 18 inches in diameter!!! They were oven fired and the crust was super thin. Mine was a 4 cheese pizza that had only cheese on it….no other sauce at all. Michael got a calzone that was huge as well. It was interesting though that we didn’t feel stuffed after we finished eating….I guess it was because the crust was so light.
After drinks, coffee, gelato and Tiramisu and lots of talking, we got back to the hotel about 11:30……a fun, fun day!!!